UConn releases plan to address food insecurity across all campuses, confirms end of COVID-19 emergency relief funds for students

03-30-2021 Dining Beat by Kevin Lindstrom John Buckley Dining Hall, located adjacent to Storrs Road, serves UConn students during the COVID-19 pandemic, March 30, 2021.

The University of Connecticut’s Interim President Radenka Maric, in conjunction with other UConn leaders, gave an update about food insecurity across all UConn campuses in an email early Thursday afternoon. 

“The pandemic’s onset brought new challenges to society, and compounded existing societal issues further. One of the issues many of our students face is the reliable access to healthy food choices. Food insecurity is complex and is experienced in different ways by our students, as undergraduates, commuter students, international students, and graduate students have different challenges and needs,” Maric wrote. 

Towards the end of the email, Maric confirmed that the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) put in place by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) have all been used, signaling a problem for those students facing food insecurity. 

“Unfortunately, we have now reached the end of emergency funding for students through the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), authorized via the American Rescue Plan (ARP). We know that the end of this funding will negatively affect progress on food insecurity, but want you to know that we are continuing our efforts,” Maric said.  

Maric emphasized that UConn needs to do more to address food insecurity for UConn students. 

“Our UConn community is working to respond to those in specific and effective ways as we strive to eliminate food insecurity on all of our campuses. Unfortunately, a study conducted by our UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Health, which researches this critically important issue, found that many students across all of our campuses need help and support for healthy and inexpensive or free food. Amid the pandemic, our state and federal governments and UConn allocated significant funding for direct distribution to students, which helped to mitigate some of the food insecurity they experienced. However, we need to do more,” Maric wrote. 

In the email, UConn highlighted student initiatives aimed at decreasing food insecurity for UConn students. These included USG’s Husky Market which started during the pandemic and plans on continuing this Fall. Husky Market offers students dealing with food insecurity gift cards for local supermarkets. 

UConn Student Affairs with their “UConn Swipes” program also allows students facing food insecurities to swipe into dining halls on the Storrs campus. The UConn’s Student Financial Aid Services office’s Division of Enrollment Planning & Management has been reaching out to students eligible for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) to “ease them into” the Husky Swipes program. 

However, Maric confirmed that UConn will continue to do more in the immediate future to help alleviate food insecurity for all UConn students. 

“In the coming months, through the generosity of donors to the UConn Foundation, leadership in the Provost’s office and our regional campus directors, we will open food pantries, called Husky Harvests, at all of our regional campuses in Avery Point, Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury,” Maric wrote. “In addition, I have discussed food insecurity with Connecticut’s Secretary of the Office of Policy & Management and have asked him to consider ways in which the state might also provide support and assist in securing long-term solutions for our students.” 

**If you are a UConn student who is experiencing food insecurity, please contact the Dean of Students at: dos@uconn.edu or 860-486-3426.** 

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